A St. John’s man who committed six robberies apparently regretted it so much that he apologized to store employees as he was holding them up, a St. John’s court heard Friday.
Andrew Walter Carter pleaded guilty to 18 charges in connection with four armed robberies, one robbery and one attempted robbery, all of which happened at convenience stores in the capital city in the span of two months last winter.
The 27-year-old — who turned himself in to police in April — had no criminal record prior to the robberies.
According to the facts of the case, which were read in provincial court during Carter’s sentencing hearing, in several of the robberies, employees described Carter as polite, calling one female clerk “’M’am” and a male employee “Sir.”
“Mr. Carter was very clear from the get-go that he was taking responsibility,” defence lawyer Michelle Coady said during Carter’s sentencing hearing.
Coady said Carter committed the robberies because he was desperate for drugs.
When he confessed to the crimes at RNC headquarters, he told officers he realized the only way he would get help was to be incarcerated.
Coady said he first tried marijuana in high school, and that led to using Percocet and Oxycotin. The last few years, he had a serious addiction to morphine.
“His addiction worsened over the years,” she said.
She said he had tried many times to get help, but to no avail. He had been doing well on the methodone program, but was dismissed when a urine test revealed there were drugs in his system.
When Carter committed his first robbery Jan. 20, he had just gotten out of a detox program at the Waterford Hospital. His withdrawals were strong, and he decided to hold up City Superette on Pleasant Street to get money for drugs.
The male clerk at the store, however, chased him out with a metal pipe. Carter threw the pocket knife he had somewhere in the street.
He said he told the clerk that he “hated to do this.” He ran to a friend’s house, where he said he had a panic attack.
Still frantic to get his fix of drugs, later that day he robbed the Ultramar on Kenmount Road.
The male clerk there told Carter, “It’s not your money. Don’t risk your life over it.”
Carter took the money and ran.
Four days later, he robbed the Marie’s Mini-Mart on Thorburn Road. The female clerks there told police Carter said, “Sorry girls, it’s not my night.” They said he wasn’t aggressive.
On Jan. 27, he held up the Marie’s Mini-Mart on Thorburn Road. He told the clerk there, “Don’t worry. Nobody is going to get hurt.” The clerk said Carter repeatedly said sorry.
Carter said he told the employee “my life is shit right now.”
He struck the Ultramar on Kenmount Road again on Jan. 29 and made off with money and a carton of cigarettes.
“’I’m sorry, Sir,” he told the clerk.
He committed his last robbery on March 19, when he held up Marie’s Mini-Mart on Blackmarsh Road, where he politely told a female employee to go behind the counter to give him money.
Coady said Carter came from “a normal family,” which has tried several times to get him help and even got involved in support groups for family members of drug addicts.
Several family members were in the courtroom to offer their support.
Coady said even when Carter’s physical withdrawls were subsiding, he was still dealing with overwhelming negative thoughts, which would only disappear when he was high.
“He used drugs as a form of escape,’’ Coady said. “He used them so much, his tolerance became extremely high.”
Coady said Carter realizes he’s facing serious jail time, but is anxious to put this part of his life behind him.
Carter pleaded guilty to six counts each of robbery and having his face masked, five counts of possessing a weapon and one count of theft under $5,000, which happened March 6 at Sears, where he took several bottles of perfume.
The sentencing hearing will continue June 26, when Coady and Crown prosecutor Bill Cadigan will present their recommendations on sentencing.
Judge David Orr is on the bench.